SINGAPORE INVITES

Little-known gateway to a sea view

National track star Dipna Lim-Prasad on the rooftop of the Marina South Pier. She first went there some six years ago, when all the place had to offer was the view and wooden floorboards.
National track star Dipna Lim-Prasad on the rooftop of the Marina South Pier. She first went there some six years ago, when all the place had to offer was the view and wooden floorboards.ST PHOTO: YEO KAI WEN

Singapore Invites, launched by the Singapore Tourism Board, encourages residents and people from around the world to invite their family and friends to experience Singapore together. In the final instalment of a five-part series, national athlete Dipna Lim-Prasad shares her favourite running spots and a 'secret hideout' with a view

Between her training sessions and his flying, national track star Dipna Lim-Prasad does not have much quality time to spend with her husband, who is a pilot.

When they do, they head to the rooftop of Marina South Pier, a place to "get away from it all".

With the sea and cruise ships in the background, their special spot at the ferry terminal is where they reconnect, said Ms Lim-Prasad. "It's one of the prettier places in Singapore. It's like our secret hideout."

When she first went there some six years ago, all that was on offer was the view, and wooden floorboards. They had gone there on a whim after dessert one night, in search of a quiet spot to talk, but left soon after as it was too dark. They returned a week later.

It was bare, but it was enough for the 24-year-old, who has competed in the 2012 London Olympics, is the fastest Singaporean woman in the 400m hurdles and won silver in the event when the SEA Games was hosted here in June.

SCENIC AND SERENE

There are no distractions here. It's conducive for good conversation. I like looking at the sea, it's a change of scenery.

MS DIPNA LIM-PRASAD, on the rooftop of Marina South Pier Brought to you by the Singapore Tourism Board

Now that some greenery, a playground and seats have been added, the spot is even better. She goes there with her husband when in the mood for an outdoor date.

"There are no distractions here. It's conducive for good conversation. I like looking at the sea, it's a change of scenery," she said.

Her memories of the place have also been sweetened by her husband Poh Seng Song, a national sprinter himself. It was one of the places he took her to during a date before he proposed to her.

While the rooftop can get noisy now, Ms Lim-Prasad's liking for it has not diminished. "There are kids running around, laughing and happy. It's a chill place, it's got happy vibes," she said.

The ferry terminal is high on her list of favourite places where she would take her German friend when he visits Singapore, to take him away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

They met when she was on a road trip in New Zealand with her husband in 2013. They saw Mr Maurice standing by a roundabout holding a sign asking for a lift, and stopped to help him.

They got to know him over the next 11/2 hours, and now keep in touch on Facebook.

Ms Lim-Prasad also enjoys Bukit Batok Town Park, more commonly known as Xiao (small) Guilin, behind Bukit Gombak stadium where she has gone for competitions.

But given that Mr Maurice is an avid traveller and may have seen plenty of natural landscapes, Ms Lim-Prasad prefers to quench his thirst for culture.

The Thian Hock Keng Temple, the oldest Chinese temple in Singapore, which was completed in 1842, is one place she will take him to visit.

As a child, Ms Lim-Prasad went there with her mother. Even now, she continues to be amazed that, centuries ago, it was along a shoreline and that its original construction did not involve a single nail.

The temple started as a prayer house located along the shoreline of the Telok Ayer Basin. Built by immigrants from China, it was dedicated to a goddess believed to protect seafarers and navigators.

Ms Lim-Prasad said that Haw Par Villa would also be a great spot, for its interesting take on Chinese culture through myths. Built in 1937, Haw Par Villa is known for its gruesome depictions of Chinese folklore's 10 Courts of Hell.

And no culture trip would be complete without a visit to Little India, she added. "Its colours and the smells of flowers and spices - they are all so invigorating," she said.

And don't forget the area's food and shopping, she added as she described Mustafa Centre in Syed Alwi Road as a "one-stop shopping centre". "Singapore has so many different sides. That is what makes it so special," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 22, 2015, with the headline 'Little-known gateway to a sea view'. Print Edition | Subscribe